Post Content

Lani blog
Lani Telian, Department of Public Health

 

 

When it comes to expiration dates, there is a lot of confusion between the dates listed on food packages. This misunderstanding can cause you to get sick from eating foods with high levels of bacteria. Between “Use by,” “Best if used by,” and “Sell by” dates, people aren’t always clear on the differences between them and what they mean. Take my own family, for example.

ExpiredStamp

On one hand, there is my mother who won’t buy anything with a “Sell by” date that is within that same month. Then there is my grandmother, who to this day has cans of food in her cabinet with a “Use by” expiration date of July 2006, because she claims she can tell when its time to throw something away. While I love them both dearly, there are much better and safer methods for knowing how long you can hold on to foods safely, and when it’s time to throw them out. As September is National Food Safety Education Month, we’re celebrating by shedding some light on the meanings of different types of expiration dates. 

The “Use by” or “Discard by” date refers to the date that foods can be safely used by. After this date, the bacteria that lives in foods can begin to grow to high levels which make the food unsafe to eat. Once this date has passed, be sure to throw this food away.

The “Best if used by” date means the quality of foods may not be as great after the date passes.  Foods are generally still safe to eat, though they may taste a little stale.

The “Sell by” date is when products should be sold by stores for safety and quality purposes. However, these foods are usually still taste good and are safe to eat for another three or four days.

Freezing foods slows down bacterial growth, so expiration dates aren’t necessarily accurate. That said, Nana if you’re reading this, take that 4-year old bag of shrimp out of your freezer, please!

Whether its milk, canned tomatoes or chicken breast, make sure you understand the dates on the package. Knowing what these dates mean will help you ensure that the foods you and your family eats are safe and delicious!

 

Written By:

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Making Your Summer POP! posted on Jul 19

Making Your Summer POP!

Few things are better than an ice-cold popsicle on a hot summer day!  I have vivid memories from my childhood running around through the sprinkler and various neighbors’ yards enjoying the summer sun.  At that age, having a messy red ring around your mouth from   …Continue Reading Making Your Summer POP!

Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces posted on Jul 18

Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces

Wellness programs are good for business. They can lead to better performing workers, lower absenteeism and decreased healthcare and insurance costs. Now, small businesses can be rewarded for these efforts! The Massachusetts Wellness Tax Credit Incentive gives small businesses in Massachusetts a state tax credit   …Continue Reading Massachusetts is Rewarding Small Businesses for Healthy Workplaces

Climate and Health: We Track That! posted on Jul 15

Climate and Health: We Track That!

Extreme heat events are one of the most common causes of weather-related deaths in the United States – and the number of heat-related deaths is rising. More frequent and severe heat waves are likely to occur as climate change continues to change weather patterns. These   …Continue Reading Climate and Health: We Track That!